Friday, March 31, 2017

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Complications During Goat Kidding: Becca's Delivery

Kidding season is awful. It just... is. For every three stories of it all going textbook perfect, you have one that goes sideways. Maybe only a little; a kid who needs a little help getting started with nursing. I live in dread of the big problems; the kids stuck in a birth canal and the necessity of a Cesarean, a kid presenting poorly and someone needs to pull the kid, a mother who doesn't make it. So many things can go wrong. I hate the feeling of inadequacy, the hind-sight of if only I had done... I like order and predictability. Goats throw well-laid plans out the window when they aren't kidding. A pregnant doe is about as predictable as the wind. Every respectable doe knows The Doe Code of Honor (read link) and lives by it. We have assisted or been present at more than 50 goat kiddings over the past 6 years. Though the vast majority of the kiddings went relatively smoothly, those that didn't, haunt me. And while I appreciate that each tragedy has taught me lessons, I would vastly prefer to live in a world that these things don't happen.

This year has been rough emotionally. We had a run of 10 births with no complications or slight issues that were easily fixed and both Mother and kid thrived. But, then we started the season losing Salome because her kid died while it was inside her and caused an infection that shut down her system. Even with the help from Shea from Knotty Goat Soapery and our veterinarian's assistance, we lost both Mom and kid. Salome's daughter, Ruth, went into labor about a month early. Ruth survived kidding, but we lost her kid. He wasn't viable that premature. Chloe's kidding was the first time we had a kid present with one leg and head and the other leg pinned straight back across his body. He survived the birth, but we lost our sweet Chloe to kidding complications a week after. Becca's kidding was the first time we had a kid present with its head twisted backwards and upside-down. Becca survived, but we lost her kid. All in all, 15 does were pregnant this season (Lydia has yet to kid- that should happen this coming week.); we lost two Mothers due to complications with kidding. We had 17 kids born to us this season; we lost Salome's kid with her, Ruth had her son prematurely, Becca's was twisted in the wrong position and died during the delivery, and Naomi kidded her baby in the night in the field alone. In addition to these heart-breaks, Bailey contracted mastitis after kidding and her son, Franklin was treated for pneumonia. Phoebe rejected her daughter, Benny, in favor of adopting Chloe's son, Captain, so we had our first bottle baby that needed to be raised inside our home this season, too. Another first, Cassie- the doe I was most hoping for kids from- was covered by Asher in October. I was there. She was in heat. Love was in the air. My expectations ran high. Cassie gained weight. She looked and acted pregnant. Right on schedule, 150 days later, her water broke... only there was no kid. There was no pregnancy. Cassie was our first case of pseudo-pregnancy. There is a good article about it HERE. So, no Cassie babies this year. Each year presents new and different challenges. This year has been a rough, terrible season of "firsts".

It is easy to dwell on the terrible things and all the "What ifs..." But, I cannot live that way for long. Flipping the stats around: We had 13 does who survived kidding season in good health and we have 13 kids who are thriving, bouncing balls of energy. According to our most recent fecal examinations, the barberpole worms that have plagued us in year's past are being managed well. Our bucks have all been moved out of the barn and away from the does completely, which means we have some hope that next year's breeding season will be more in our control. (It's okay to laugh at that sentence. But, I can hope.)

Image from Goat Vet Corner on Facebook
I recorded a video this morning in my studio about what happened with Becca's delivery. It is unedited and unscripted, so understand that my wording is not as precise it would be otherwise. I want to clarify the 30-30-30 rule I share in the video: Once the 2nd stage of labor has started (water breaks and pushing starts), you wait 30 minutes before intervening- unless something is obviously wrong. This is a rule of thumb, not absolute law. If there is something obviously wrong, get help. If 30 minutes passes and there is no progress, it is time to check internally for problems. Gloves on, lots of lubrication and gently try to feel out the situation. Keep your fingers together. You want to feel hooves and head. Use the chart I shared to visualize what you are feeling. (I have that chart saved to every device I own.) Once one kid is delivered, you wait 30 minutes for any other kids. Do not immediately try to pull the kid. If it can be born on its own, that is preferred. The Goat Vet Corner Group on facebook is invaluable. In this group you ask a question, and veterinarians answer the questions. While it is no substitute for a good relationship with your personal vet, I have learned so much there. There are many threads that deal with complications during delivery and explain the 30-30-30 rule better than I have. :)
After delivery, Becca felt weak, but with a good appetite.

Secondly, I want to be clear and candid. Becca's kid was alive when labor started. My misreading the situation contributed to her death. If I had gotten things right, I could have maybe pushed the kid back into the uterus to reposition the head and get it facing forward. If I had gone with my gut after the initial 30 minutes passed without progress and taken her to Dr. Tanja, she might have survived. (I changed my mind about going because there seemed to be progress after that. I saw and felt the hoof. Also, I was still waiting for a call back to see if she was home and available.) If I had called Shea sooner, she might have been able to turn the kid. I blame myself for getting it wrong. And that is just. Sean said, "Sonja, you know that there is no guarantee that anyone else pulling the kid would have changed the outcome. Sometimes it goes wrong." Shea consoled me with, "You will never forget what that feels like, Sonja. If you ever come across that again, you will know it." They are an amazing support system. But, they are wrong in this. This one was on me. I was not good enough this time. If I had understood the presentation properly, I would have known to push the kid back in to try to turn the head. I may not have been successful. It is a very tight space and the head was behind the pelvic bone, but I would have failed doing the right thing and not because I made a mistake. The one thing that is true is that I did my best. Doing nothing was a certain death sentence on both Becca and her kid. I called Dr. Tanja and left a couple messages. Time ran out and something had to be done. I did what I thought was the right thing. I was wrong and it cost Becca's kid her life. But, it saved Becca's life, too. And, Shea is partially right: I will never forget any of it.

Becca is recovering well and we hope for a complete recovery for her. The image on the left is a close up of the placenta still unpassed. We need to watch for a retained placenta and the complications that that would add. We are milking her several times each day to stimulate contractions to help with it's expulsion.

Becca is active this morning.
We are almost finished with kidding season. Only Lydia is left to kid. I am looking forward to putting another season behind us. Spring and summer have never looked so good.

Thank you for visiting with us. The road is not always an easy one, but I appreciate your sharing it with us.

~Sean & Sonja

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